18/100: Reflecting on Penny Ur’s Teaching Tips – 7. Pair Work

Quite a pair! Naomi's Photos
Quite a pair!
Naomi’s Photos

This is part seven of my blogging challenge.

As a veteran teacher it is easy to fall into the trap of doing things a certain way just because I’ve done them that way for years, without remembering the reason why. 

I’ve decided to set myself a blogging challenge – reflect on one tip from each of the 18 sections that compose Penny Ur’s latest book: “100 Teaching Tips”, so as to dust off old practices that may have remained unexamined for too long.

Tip Number 34: “Use pair work a lot”

This tip is so validating!

I’ve always found pair work to be more effective, since in groups some students always seem to be taking the back seat. There are some that take over right away while others more or less wait for the dominant ones to come up with the right answers.

I found this to be particularly true in the courses I taught adults (normal hearing but struggling learners with a lot in common with the weakest of my deaf and hard of hearing students). Classes of 35-38 adults to be exact. Dividing them up into groups went quickly enough but I simply could not get them all to participate equally. Some were wasting time.

One student even complained that I wasn’t making him stop using Facebook!

Frankly, I ascribed the fact that students were much more focused on their tasks during pair work (as opposed to group work) to my background as a Special ED. teacher. I assumed it worked better because I had more practice with pair work. Groups can be very tricky in mixed level special Ed. classes.

It seems my background is not the only reason I prefer pair-work!

Do you prefer it too?



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